SpaceX brought back to live one of the most historic places in NASA history – Launch Pad 39A. With resupply mission to the International Space Station of their Dragon cargo lifted on the top of the Falcon-9 FT SpaceX started their extensive flight campaign from Kennedy Space Center.
CRS-10 mission started with 24 hour delay and finished with injecting Dragon to correct orbit and impressive landing of the first stage of the Falcon-9 FT 15 km from LC-39 at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone-1. SpaceX maybe suffers for delays in their flight schedule, but still shows their skills and remains only company on market which is able to perform regular commercial flights and utilize part of their launch vehicle in following missions.
Launch was postponed from Saturday due the technical issues with thrust vector control system in the second stage. Fortunately SpaceX specialists managed to fix problem and 30th launch of the Falcon rocket was possible yesterday at 14:39 UTC.
Fueling the Falcon-9 FT started around 13:50 UTC with loading LOX and RP-1 and was finished around 14:20 UTC. Long for 70 m (with diameter at 3.66 m) rocket was ready for launch. At 14:32 UC pre valves were opened and propellant started to chill engines. Four minutes later rocket was already on internal power; one minute before launch water curtains were initialized and fueling system of the rocket was pressurized. Finally at 14:39 UTC Falcon-9 FT started to rise over 39A launch pad finishing lasting six years period of interruption in flights. Weighing 549054 kg rocket with Dragon packed with 2.5 t of scientific experiments, hardware and supplies performed pitch maneuver to set northeasterly trajectory at T+20″. It broke sound barrier at T+60″. At T+2’26” nine Merlin-1D engines were cut off and first stage was separated four seconds later. Stage performed flip maneuver and deployed stabilizing fins at T+4’01”. Two minutes 38 seconds later it performed first burn to stabilize flight and reduce speed. Finally it landed securely at T+8’16”. At T+9’24” second stage was cut off and deployed Dragon at 14:49 UTC. Shortly after Dragon deployed solar arrays and started its planned for three days space journey.